FIN REVIEW: Von Trier’s House a maniacal masterpiece of cinematic architecture

Anyone familiar with the incessant provocation director Lars Von Trier propagates will immediately recognize this film as a fictional, but thematically autobiographical, work.

This film, about a serial killer in the 1970’s, and the sensibilities and cultural values that inform his violent urges, is a big, instigating middle finger to Von Trier’s critics.

It’s at the same time engaging, enthralling, sprawling, and beautifully sadistic. It’s an uncomfortable journey through the mind of a deranged man — and by extension, through the complicated auteur behind the lens.

Through Matt Dillon, in the lead role, the film tackles misogyny, the viewer’s fascination with violence, the curious thirst for knowledge regarding evil icons, and Von Trier’s own self-diagnosed narcissism.

He’s a difficult, enraging director who is pleased with the viewer’s alienation. He forces hard truths and brutality into his films and derives his own pleasure from the outrage of his critics.

A child star no more, Matt Dillon is in his terrifying, cold glory as the sick, self-assured, OCD Jack.

He deserves an Oscar for giving his own wake-up call to everyone who forgot just how well he can play evil.

If you thought his rapist, ultimately-redeemed cop in his Oscar-nominated Crash role was the most vicious he could go, you need to hit the road with Dillon as Jack.

FIN Executive Director Wayne Carter read an article that said Dillon’s ruined his chances to be in a Disney film. That may be, but he also sure as hell upped his chances of making critics see him as more than a comedic foil from There’s Something About Mary.

This is Dillon’s most ambitious, cold-blooded and callous performance, and also the best of his career.

While The House That Jack Built is a giant “F**K You” to Von Trier’s haters, it is also a self-examination and admission of the misogyny and narcissism the prolific, challenging director actually may have inside him.

He’s not told those who hate him that they’re completely wrong in their assumptions, but with each brutal scene, he makes it clear he doesn’t really care whether you like him or not.

The allegorical ending, inner-dialogue of Jack, and honesty of the main character show us Von Trier is far from a role model.

But for those who like their cinema demanding and grueling, Von Trier has built a triumphant, bloody mess with The House That Jack Built.

4.5/5 Stars

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